General Relativity and Gravitation

, Volume 36, Issue 10, pp 2373–2416 | Cite as

OPTIS—An Einstein Mission for Improved Tests of Special and General Relativity

  • C. Lämmerzahl
  • I. Ciufolini
  • H. Dittus
  • L. Iorio
  • H. Müller
  • A. Peters
  • E. Samain
  • S. Scheithauer
  • S. Schiller


The mission OPTIS aims at improving tests of the foundations of Special and General Relativity by up to three orders of magnitude. The individual tests concern

• the isotropy and

• constancy of the speed of light,

• the time dilation (or Doppler effect),

• the universality of the gravitational redshift with various combinations of high precision clocks. Furthermore, laser tracking and a laser link allows

• a strongly improved measurement of the gravitomagnetic Lense–Thirring effect,

• of the gravitoelectric Einstein perigee advance,

• of the gravitational redshift, and

• a search for deviations from Newtonian gravity.

For this mission, technologies are required which have been used recently to carry through the most precise tests of Special Relativity. The precision of these tests can be further increased under space conditions thanks to longer integration times, larger changes in the orbital velocity, and larger differences of the gravitational potential. Furthermore, very precise laser tracking and linking of satellites is a well established technique and will provide, in combination with the active drag–free control system, very accurate orbit data. The core technologies for OPTIS are optical cavities, highly stabilized lasers, capacitive gravitational reference sensors, drag–free control, ion clocks, frequency combs, and laser tracking systems. These technologies are also key technologies for other future missions.

Special Relativity General Relativity constancy of speed of light gravitational redshift Lense–Thirring effect laser ranging time transfer 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Lämmerzahl
    • 1
  • I. Ciufolini
    • 2
  • H. Dittus
    • 1
  • L. Iorio
    • 3
  • H. Müller
    • 4
  • A. Peters
    • 4
  • E. Samain
    • 5
  • S. Scheithauer
    • 1
  • S. Schiller
    • 6
  1. 1.ZARMUniversity BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell' Innovazione dell' Università di Lecce and INFN Sezione di LecceLecceItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Fisica dell' Università di BariBariItaly
  4. 4.Institute for PhysicsHumboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Observatoire de la Côte AzurCaussolsFrance
  6. 6.Institut für ExperimentalphysikHeinrich–Heine–Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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